To the Brim: How USC is fighting a stubborn culture of binge drinking

first_imgThe Row was abuzz with partygoers shifting in and out of pulsing houses along the half-mile stretch of fraternity homes on 28th Street. As the clock inched toward 12 a.m., the Thursday night festivities were approaching their enforced conclusions.Sophomore Katie McCool was tired. The night had been long, there was class for her in the morning and she was ready to go home. But as she was about to leave a party with a group of friends, she noticed a girl in the hallway struggling to stand. The girl was alone, disorientated and nearly unconscious.“It was clear she couldn’t handle herself,” McCool said. “She was very intoxicated.”A small crowd formed. People debated calling for help: DPS, 911, a roommate. “No, she’s conscious,” someone said. “She’s responsive.” McCool and the group eventually agreed on a happy medium; They phoned student EMTs, who, upon arrival, said she was well enough to be taken home. McCool and one of her friends tucked the girl into an Uber, eventually putting her to bed and in the care of her roommate. The girl eventually recovered, but throughout the night, she vomited, sweat through the sheets and foamed at the mouth. These are symptoms of alcohol poisoning, which can be a lot more serious than just a brutal hangover the next day. As the University continues to rise into the upper echelons of academia, a lingering challenge remains as to how to break up a stubborn binge-drinking culture that is putting students’ lives at risk not just on the Row, but all throughout the campus community. A Stubborn MinorityBinge drinking, typically classified as having five or more drinks in a short period of time, has long been a staple of a college culture where students will drink to dangerous extremes. USC is no exception, and it is the leading cause of Trojans being sent from late-night parties strewn around campus straight into the local emergency room.“When we look back at the data, we see a growing number of students who are being transported to hospitals over the past 10 years for the overconsumption of alcohol,” said Ainsley Carry, vice president for Student Affairs.Data collected by the University since the early 2000s show that the numbers of undergraduates participating in “high-episodic” drinking — defined as the consumption of five or more drinks for males and four or more drinks for females on at least one occasion in the past two weeks  — is both above the national average and rising. According to the 2014-2015 Impact Report compiled by AlcoholEdu for the University,  nearly a third of the USC student population had binge drank within the past two weeks during the fall semester, a four percent increase from 2006.Not surprisingly, then, a steady stream of underclassmen is being rushed to hospitals after overestimating their drinking limits. In just the first few weeks of this school year alone, there have been nearly 50 alcohol-related medical transports on and around the University Park Campus. The mass majority of those incidents have involved underage, first-year students.It’s an issue that has severely gripped the attention of campus administrators and student groups alike. The overarching theme of their efforts is clear: stop the fringe culture of binge drinking in its tracks.“We have a brand as a party school,” Carry said. “Some students come here and think it’s what everyone else is doing, but the truth is 90 percent of our student population manages themselves responsibly.”From the Impact Report, of the nearly 3,000 students that arrive on campus each year, 59 percent come in as non-drinkers – meaning they haven’t had a sip of alcohol in the past two weeks, a 6 percent increase from 2006. Abstainers, or those who haven’t touched a drink in the past year, make up 29 percent of that. But by 45 days into the semester, that first group is down to 44 percent. The abstainers? Decreases to 24 percent. Somehow along the way, students are picking up a drinking habit, and in dangerous amounts. Binge drinking, too, jumps from 21 percent to 32 percent. “Alcohol use in high school students has gone down over the years, so more students are coming to us as non-drinkers,” said Paula Swinford, director for the Office of Wellness and Health Promotion. “One of our challenges is how to hold onto them.”A Space for Non-DrinkersFor administrators, the key to maintaining these “non-drinkers” is offering programming that doesn’t center on alcohol. If the student doesn’t drink, ‘Good,’ they say. Their mission is to provide an alternative so the pressure to go out and party dissipates.“Residents tell me they are not a huge drinker or partier, but that’s the only way to hang out with their friends in that group,” said Heather Lee, vice president of advocacy for Residential Student Government. “The idea is that partying is the primary social event, and if you don’t do that, there’s no way to hang out.To combat these residents’ preconceived notions, the Office of Residential Education rolled out “Cardinal and Gold Events” last year, which are late-night, alcohol-alternative functions Thursdays through Saturdays. And so far, they’ve been quite the success. ResEd Director Emily Sandoval couldn’t help but smile when describing a Pinterest-themed craft event this month that had more than 200 people in attendance – on a Friday night.“It’s nice just to know that the students who are coming out to the late-night programs — it’s for them,” she said. “It’s for students who think there’s nothing else going on on campus.”Those Cardinal and Gold events have been supplemented this year with Late Night ’SC, programming offered to all USC students, not just residents, that also offers non-alcohol-centric events during prime social hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. And this year’s expansion of programming for student housing, or “Residential Colleges,” is envisioned as a way to provide a social community for students with events that aren’t about alcohol.The crux of these efforts is to normalize non-drinking behavior before it starts.When Swinford from OWHP speaks about drinking’s effects on young college students, her characteristically cheerful demeanor stiffens. Working at the University since 1987, she’s witnessed the worst possible outcome of binge drinking.“I have lived through student deaths due to alcohol,” Swinford said. “Nobody wants that.”For her, it’s all about education — convincing students that there are more consequences to drinking than just a nasty hangover. The neurological damage is what worries her.Advances in brain science have shown, Swinford said, that the human brain goes through as much change between the ages of 19 and 24 as from birth until 5 years old. “If we are going to really provide an elite educational experience, we have to be up front how you are messing with the equipment if you’re drinking,” she said.Swinford, of course, understands the reality. Students coming to this university will drink, as they have in the past and likely will into the foreseeable future. But in her ideal world, it’s not really about educating young students how to drink, but rather, how not to.“I would have told you in 1987 that we could teach an 18-year-old how to drink responsibility,” she said. “What worries me now is I don’t think we can.”Before It’s Too LateThe question remains, however, on what to do about the students they can’t save right away, the students who just can’t seem to stop indulging in dangerous drinking behavior.“We know it will happen, so we want to find out what is the desire or the culture that pushes people to drink alcohol to the point where they’re unconscious,” Carry said.This is Carry’s ballpark. For him and his department, it’s about providing policy and environmental changes to the campus that will help students who have drunk too much, while also empowering them with the skill development to monitor their own behavior.In 2013, Student Affairs implemented an amnesty policy, which said if a student calls for medical help relating to underage drinking, they won’t be sanctioned. It then updated the social events policy, which hadn’t been touched much since 1992, with the realities of student behavior.Changes included extending Thursday night events to 12 a.m. and weekend events to 2 a.m. The thought behind the change was that students were drinking faster to beat the prior deadline. With a later party, hopefully, that behavior is more drawn out.And those free USC Ubers, rolled out in fall 2014, were about more than just getting students from one block of campus to another. With average usage sitting at roughly 13,000 rides a week, the goal is that it curbs the desire to drink and drive. Its use is not always about alcohol, but that’s all right, Carry said. If it can help during a pivotal moment, it’s working.Trevor Sochocki | Daily TrojanThe Greek community has also received a renewed focus. Both the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils are continually working with administration to combat the dangers of underage binge drinking that can plague their social events. For example, this semester,  Panhellenic has offered chapter programming to supplement AlcoholEdu, discussing the underlying dangers and causes of binge drinking, as well as augmented partnerships with campus health and wellness organizations. Last semester, the Fraternity and Sorority Leadership Development updated an 11-page list of regulations for Greek-related social events. In particular, Row parties that serve alcohol must have a guest list approved 24 hours in advance, specifically mark underage drinkers, serve only beer and wine, hire a security guard for every 50 people present and limit men and women to within public areas of the party until 8 a.m. the following morning.Questions do remain on the enforcement of such social event policies. Girls in attendance at these parties have reported the veiled inclusion of hard alcohol and the spotty screening of underage drinkers. And when partygoers’ hands are Sharpied with a black “x,” they can often be quickly wiped off or ignored by fraternity members tending bar. In a statement to the Daily Trojan, IFC said policy violations like these are strictly enforced by the OFSLD, the IFC judicial board and the Department of Public Safety. They stressed the many problems from binge drinking stem rather from “pregaming” Row events.“This is an issue which we, in partnership with all other councils, are working to solve with the continued enforcement of the Event Registration guidelines and renewed commitment to wellness education,” the statement read. But such actions are not limited to the Row. Without such explicit restrictions, off-Row events allow an even greater access to hard alcohol and tacit approval of underage drinking. Parties lining nearby streets like Menlo Avenue and Ellendale Place too feature irregular ID checks with much less University regulation than the Greek community faces. These issues — both after-hours and off-campus — are far from the field of vision of campus administrators. There is the belief, then, that some responsibility must lie on the student for the spaces administrators can’t reach. The idea is that students must want to change. “What worries me most is that somehow or another the students look to the University to fix it. ‘You guys make us safe. What’s the university doing to keep me safe?’” Swinford said. “The University will continue to reduce risk and try to be clear about message and enforce where it can, but that, ultimately, the population will have to decide if it’s a problem.”Making the Call Above all else, safety and health are the top priorities among administrators and student groups alike. The thought is that it is better for a student to get help if necessary, than end up sick and alone like the girl sophomore Katie McCool found on that unfortunate Thursday night.“We don’t want people to feel like they shouldn’t call for help,” Carry said. “If the numbers need to continue to increase, let them increase, because we’re preventing something else much worse.”And for those non-drinkers, empowering them from a silent majority into a University norm is ultimately what the school hopes to achieve.“There are many ways to do USC,” Swinford said. “And intoxicated is only one of them.”Read more: The binge drinking culture starts and ends with uslast_img read more

Wellington High School holding Spirit week; Don’t forget homecoming parade is Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

first_imgThe Seuss Girls.Sumner Newscow report — It is that week. Wellington High School is holding Spirit Week as part of the homecoming festivities.These girls, from left: Abby Goodrum, Ryleigh Buck, McKenna Oathout, Hannah Roths, Allison McCue, and Madi Adams dressed up as the Seuss Girls  – a knockoff of  the Spice girls.Don’t forget the homecoming parade is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday a pep rally and then bonfire will be held thereafter at around 7:30 p.m. in front of the Wellington High School:The full high school schedule is below. For the full 2014 Fall Festival including the Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce activities click on the ad on the right… Wednesday- Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You? Favorite Dr. Seuss character or AnimalThursday- The Sneeches- Go all out and wear your starsFriday- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish- Wear red to show your Crusader PrideFriday evening: Wellington vs. Andale. Homecoming dance follows.Follow us on Twitter. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. There are no comments posted yet. Be the first one! Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img read more

Shaq moving on to the next chapter—retirement

first_imgFATHER TIME CATCHES UP—In this June 15, 2001 photo, Los Angeles Lakers’ Shaquille O’Neal holds up the MVP trophy, right, and the championship trophy after the Lakers won their second straight NBA championship in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File) Framed jerseys from the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzky, Mark McGwire, Kirby Puckett, Steve Young and Jerry Rice. An NBA finals MVP trophy. Bottles of wine with labels bearing the “S’’ logo that he borrowed from Superman and essentially made his own. Basketballs with the Miami Heat logos painted on them, one to commemorate his 25,000th point, the other for his 10,000th rebound. A photo of him, Bill Russell and John Wooden.It took him 19 years to collect those memories.On Friday, he vowed to start truly savoring them.“It’s time for what’s next,” the Big Fella said.The 39-year-old O’Neal made his retirement official, reiterating what he revealed in a video posted to Twitter two days earlier. Saying those words where he did brought a full-circle piece of closure to his career, since it all ended at his home in a suburb of Orlando, the city where his pro days began when the Magic made him the No. 1 pick in 1992.“Never thought this day would come,” O’Neal said. “Father Time has finally caught up with Shaquille O’Neal.”Speculation has been high for weeks that O’Neal’s playing days were over, and the widely expected became real on June 1. It took him 10 seconds to announce his plans in the online video, and as few athletes could do, those 10 seconds turned into a three-day story. Tributes have poured in and on June 3, O’Neal thanked just about everyone he could remember.His parents, thanking his father for his discipline and his mother for sneaking him cake, milk and cookies when that discipline prevented the boy from getting his own. His brothers and sisters. His six children, who got an apology for his schedule demands and a promise that they would keep going to Toys “R’’ Us. His fans worldwide. The NBA and David Stern. The camaraderie in the locker room. The six teams he played with.“And I’m really going to miss the free throws,” deadpanned O’Neal, a notoriously bad foul-shooter.A joker, all the way to the end.He would not have it any other way.He insisted he will not return, nor will he coach anyone but his three sons. His career ends with 28,596 points, 13,099 rebounds, 15 All-Star selections, four championships and three NBA finals MVP awards. He had a $1.4 million option to return to the Boston Celtics next season, but said he did not want to hold up the team’s plans several months if he needs Achilles’ surgery.So he made the decision to retire, on his terms.“I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” O’Neal said.The finale came in a fitting place. He loves his mansion, about two miles from Tiger Woods’ longtime home and surrounded by a private golf course, ironic in the sense that O’Neal has no plans to take up the game in retirement.He bought the home in 1993, and it’s remained his base ever since—even after he left the Magic for Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, Cleveland and Boston throughout his NBA career.The doorways are enormous, as one would expect when the primary occupant of the home is more than 7 feet tall. Guests were ushered in across a red carpet laid out over his meticulous garage, which held luxury cars and motorcycles. Family and close friends gathered in the massive kitchen while the gymnasium filled for a celebration that was tinged with a bit of sadness.“This is a bittersweet day on behalf of the family,” said O’Neal’s mother, Lucille Harrison. “It’s been 19 years, but the 19 years have gone by so quick.”Dale Brown, who coached O’Neal at LSU, sat on Shaq’s left. Brown told a slew of stories, including one when Shaq asked permission to eat peanuts from a hotel minibar, not even considering the liquor. Brown lauded how O’Neal was raised and his charitable work, much of which Shaq does not reveal publicly.O’Neal was so moved by Hurricane Katrina that he arranged for tractor-trailers to bring supplies to storm-ravaged New Orleans and personally oversaw distribution efforts. And after that, Shaq considered signing with the New Orleans Hornets, thinking his mere presence in the city would help recovery efforts even more, but the deal simply fell through.“He’s an unbelievable person,” Brown said. “He’ll stay that way.”O’Neal’s immediate future is uncertain. He’ll likely work in television, but his health comes first. Injuries derailed him this season, and if his injured Achilles’ doesn’t improve soon, surgery may be unavoidable. He said he promised his family he would get his body right.The ways he changed the game were countless, beginning with his unique combination of size, strength and athleticism. He was the first big man to become a marketing giant. He spent huge money—$650,000 one year in Miami—to play Shaq-a-Claus for underprivileged kids at Christmas.Everything wasn’t always perfect. He clashed with teammates like Kobe Bryant, clashed with coaches like Stan Van Gundy. Nonetheless, those in the league still hold him in high esteem.“A living legend,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said.O’Neal said he leaves with some regrets, foremost among them not being able to reach 30,000 points. And while everyone knew what he would say Friday, he was anxious, something his mother gently chided him for afterward.“I was nervous, Momma,” O’Neal said. “I’m sorry.”Everyone laughed, as they did several times throughout the ceremony. He joked that the New York Knicks were calling, wanting him to interview for their general manager job. He cited his work in “award-winning movies, such as Kazaam.”He turned serious at times, thanking coaches like Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers, and proudly saying that his doctorate will be completed by January at Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla. He’ll then be called Dr. O’Neal.Good thing, because all his famous nicknames—Shaq-Fu, The Big Aristotle, Diesel and especially Superman—are now retired along with him, he said.Henceforth, he’ll call himself The Big AARP, which that organization couldn’t have been happier to hear.“If you’re like most of our members—half are still working, many more give back to their communities—you’re not done yet, either,” AARP CEO A. Barry Rand said in a statement. “There’s plenty left to do, enjoy, and figure out after ‘retirement,’ so let us know if you want help figuring out what’s next.”Shaq’s got a long time to figure that out. by Tim ReynoldsWINDERMERE, Fla. (AP)—Shaquille O’Neal changed from his gray T-shirt and sweat pants into a three-piece suit, then walked by some of the souvenirs he accrued during his NBA days for the final time as an active player.last_img read more

Red Bank Cops Start New Year With Fitness Goals

first_imgBy John BurtonRED BANK – “Our job goes from zero to 60 all the time,” said Red Bank Police Patrolman Jorge Torres about his work and the need for a police officer to stay in shape.Police Chief Darren McConnell has long agreed. Now he’s instituted a program to help make it a little easier for his officers to get a little gym time.The idea that first came to him back when the borough enacted its Mayor’s Wellness Campaign a few years ago to encourage municipal employees to pursue healthy lifestyles, involving regular exercise and good diets, and offering modest incentives as encouragements. Healthier employees take less sick time, are more productive and can help keep publicly paid health insurance costs in check, officials believe. And of course, there is the improvement in their quality of life.Running with that idea and with information he’s gotten from a certified public managers’ class, McConnell initiated his own take on encouraging officers to exercise more.The program started in November and so far 26 of the department’s 40 officers are participating. “It’s gotten a pretty good reception,” he said.The initiative allows department members to take as many as six hours a month – an hour either at the start of their tour or at the end – and they can spend that hour at a local gym, such as the Community YMCA or Work Out World, in the borough, and where it can be verified that the officer had gone and used the time; or they can use the running track at Count Basie Fields, and clock in some laps. “And they’re encouraged, obviously, to go while they’re off duty,” too, McConnell added. “The idea being to promote cardiac health and physical fitness among the officers.”To that end, officers must have a medical physical exam to make sure they are in good enough condition to begin with and plans call for a twice- a-year physical fitness test, involving sprints, a 1 1⁄2-mile run and push-ups and sit-ups, to monitor progress. The first test will be held in April.“It also has the effect of building camaraderie,” McConnell said. “It should be a fun thing, hopefully.”Red Bank Police Patrolman Garry Falco does some laps as part of an initiative his department has instituted to help get officers into shape. Photo courtesy of G. FalcoGarry Falco is a five-year veteran patrolman who works out as often as he can in what time he can spare. With a young family and work responsibilities, there is not a lot of time. “So getting to the gym on days off can be difficult,” he said.“Now that we have the opportunity to do it while at work it’s a benefit to everybody,” he said.“Considering the dynamics of the job and the potential situations you could be in, you could be in a foot pursuit or a fight at a bar closing,” said Falco.“The lifestyle doesn’t necessarily always lead itself to the healthiest places,” McConnell said, explaining officers can go for extended sedentary work periods, in a patrol vehicle or at a desk, with too often meal breaks of pizza or fast food and then “bursts of activity with no warning.” Police officers nationally have a very high rate of cardiovascular disease. According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which published a study in 2013, heart attacks are in the top two of the three leading causes of death for in-the-line-of-duty deaths and an officer is 25 times more likely to suffer death or disability from heart disease than from the violent action of a suspect.In years past the Red Bank department had seen two of its long-serving officers lose their lives from heart ailments.“Our heart has to be in great shape,” said Torres, who regularly works out on his off-duty hours. “And that running on the treadmill for 45 minutes or a half-hour really that the job is allowing us to do would help our cardiovascular health – and that’s what we really need in this job.”The Manalapan department has adopted a similar program and Howell is considering it, too, according to McConnell.“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Falco said, hoping other departments follow suit.last_img read more